The road to pitting Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury together for a heavyweight unification bout has been a long and winding one, and it looked like they had finally reached an agreement to square off in Saudi Arabia in August. However, Fury’s old foe Deontay Wilder has been a thorn in his side throughout the negotiations, insisting that Fury honour a commitment to a third bout between the pair.
The problem was compounded when an arbitration hearing ruled in favour of Wilder, stating that Fury was obligated to face the American for a third time before September 15th. Naturally, this has thrown a spanner in the works, and the boxing fans who were so eagerly anticipating the blockbuster match-up between Fury and Joshua will be devastated that they are likely to have to wait even longer.
A possible solution was to pay Wilder a ‘step-aside’ fee, but despite rumours that the American had been offered $10 million to waive his right to face Fury again, Wilder is said to be uninterested in any kind of monetary compensation and wants the opportunity to get his revenge on Fury, who beat him in February 2020 after the pair had drawn in December 2018.
Everything is very much up in the air, but it looks as though Fury is going to be left with no choice but to take on the ‘Bronze Bomber’ once more. It’s unlikely that the ‘Gypsy King’ would be fazed by the prospect of taking on Wilder in the ring again, and he’d be the favourite among those betting at Betfair, but the inconvenience of being forced to do so having seemingly wrapped up an agreement with Joshua will undoubtedly irk the WBC heavyweight champion.
For Joshua, it puts him in limbo somewhat. If Fury is forced to delay his bout with the Watford native, then Joshua will most likely need to find a stop-gap opponent, but it’s not clear who this might be. Both parties will still be hopeful that a solution can be reached to get Wilder to step aside, but the American has come across as mightily determined to have one last shot at Fury.
One potential positive of the Joshua vs Fury fight being delayed is that it could pave the way for the showdown to be held in the UK, potentially with a capacity crowd if the coronavirus pandemic is under sufficient control. The fight could never have been held behind closed doors in the UK, as it simply wouldn’t have provided the financial gains both parties were seeking, hence why Saudi Arabia was the chosen location. But if spectators are allowed back to sporting venues with no restrictions in the relatively near future, then a rethink could be in the offing.
It’s hard to gauge how much appetite there is among boxing fans for Fury and Wilder to face off again. Most feel that the score has been settled, that Fury suitably demonstrated his superiority in the second fight, and that the proper thing for Wilder to do is accept he was beaten by the better fighter.
But it looks like the Bronze Bomber won’t be deterred. The British boxing community analysing the online betting tips and rubbing their hands in excitement at the prospect of Joshua and Wilder going head to head, and now they are left to hope that the fight will still be able to go ahead at some stage in the near future.